The Department of Health is reporting a travel-related case of dengue virus in Hawaii: Maui now

Aedes albopictus is a widespread invasive mosquito in Hawaii. Photo: James Gattani, CDC.

The Hawaii Department of Health has received a report of a travel-associated case of dengue in Hawaii, on the island of O’ahu, in a person who recently traveled to countries where dengue is common. The last confirmed case of locally acquired dengue in the state was in 2016.

The dengue virus is spread from person to person by mosquitoes. In areas with suspected or confirmed dengue, Hawai’i DOH personnel conduct inspections and mosquito abatement activities.

Dengue vector control. File Photo: Hawaii County Health Department.

Reducing mosquito populations reduces the chances of dengue transmission to other people. In areas without reported cases of dengue, removing mosquito breeding grounds in and around your home is a good practice. Mosquitoes only need small amounts of standing water to breed. Common breeding grounds at home include buckets, water-capturing plants (such as bromeliads), small containers, pots, rain barrels, or even cups left outside. Simply pouring standing water from containers eliminates the potential for mosquito breeding.

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While Hawaii is home to the type of mosquito that can transmit dengue, the disease is not established (endemic) here in the state, and cases are currently only seen in travelers.

Dengue epidemics occur in many parts of the world, such as: Central and South America; Asia, including the Republic of the Philippines; the Middle East; Africa; certain Pacific islands, including the American territories of American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau; and in many popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.

Anyone traveling to an area with dengue is at risk of infection. Some countries are reporting increased cases, so it is important 4-6 weeks before travel to review country-specific travel information for the most up-to-date guidance on dengue risk and prevention measures for that country.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises travelers to take the usual precautions when traveling to dengue risk areas to reduce their chances of being bitten by mosquitoes. This includes using an EPA-registered insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, especially at dusk and dawn, and sleeping in an air-conditioned room or a room with mosquito nets on windows or under an insecticide-treated bed net .

Travelers returning from an area at risk of dengue should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks. If dengue symptoms develop within two weeks of return, medical evaluation should be sought immediately.

Mosquito repellent. Image credit: State Department of Health. To prevent the spread of dengue fever, the Department of Health recommends applying mosquito repellent containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when in areas with high mosquito activity, using indoor insecticides, and cleaning places with standing water.

Dengue symptoms can be mild or severe and include high fever, nausea, vomiting, rash and body aches. Symptoms usually last two to seven days, and although severe and even life-threatening illness can occur, most people recover in about a week.

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For more information, please visit the Department of Disease Control (DOCD) website and the Vector Control Department website.

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